Ten years ago, Petr Cech took a sickening blow from the onrushing Stephen Hunt in a horrible accident against Reading in the Premier League.
The goalkeeper, who has since moved to Arsenal from Chelsea, has now revealed that he might have even died due to the severity of the injury. He managed to crawl off the pitch, but was not able to exit the stadium under his own power.
“Things could have been different,” said Cech to Sky Sports. He has been wearing protective headgear ever since returning from taking the hit.
“The doctors tried not to scare me too much and I never asked too much. But if you ask my wife, even now, she does not look too well. For her, the experience was a thousand times worse than it was for me.”
“It was a very close call.”
Cech had a depressed skull fracture, and pieces of bone ended up horribly close to his brain. Somehow, the Czech international ended up returning to action just three months after his life hung in the balance.
“I have to say a lot of people did not want me to return as quickly as I did. It was my decision and my will to come back to what I was used to doing and what I love,” he said.
“Once the surgeon said the skull is strong enough with the helmet on, I decided to return to training with the team.”
“Two days later, we travelled to Liverpool – which I did not tell my wife at the start, I told her I’m just travelling with the team.”
Other serious issues on the pitch since have included Fabrice Muamba’s heart attack for Bolton against Tottenham, for which paramedics were quickly available on the back of the Cech case.
The most harrowing revelation from the goalkeeper is that the closeness of the hospital that saved his life – in Oxford – was the only thing that kept his heart beating.
“The decisions of Bryan and the medical staff and the proximity of Oxford – that’s the combination that gave me a chance.”